2.29.2008

dispatch from the u.s. peace movement: showdown in berkeley

From Courage to Resist:
For months, the anti-war women's group CodePink staged near-daily protests outside of a Marine recruiting station in downtown Berkeley, California. These gatherings became a part of the local landscape. However, vigil-as-usual ended when the Berkeley City Council voted to officially endorse these ongoing protests and to send a letter to the Marine recruiters asking them to leave town. Right-wing radio rallied their listeners to "punish" the city, and anti-military recruiting advocates rallied to defend the council's actions.

National right-wing groups such as Move America Forward and their media outlets attacked the council vote. U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) and five other Republican senators moved to introduce the "Semper Fi Act" that would cut off over $2 million in federal funds to Berkeley, including a public school lunch program. A Republican State Assemblyman pledged to try to deny Berkeley over $3 million in state funds for road repairs. While these moves have little chance of succeeding, they effectively placed the council on notice that "the powers that be" were not happy.

A showdown of epic proportions (even for Berkeley) ensued around Berkeley City Hall February 12. With out-of-town pro-war individuals descending on Berkeley to intimidate the City Council for its anti-war position, Courage to Resist joined CodePink, ANSWER Coalition, World Can't Wait, Veterans for Peace and other community groups to mobilize over a thousand people to support the council's opposition to the Iraq War and military recruiting—and continue the struggle to oppose military recruiting in our community. Knowing that pro-war, pro-recruiting people intended to begin their rally before dawn, anti-war groups set up a 24-hour encampment on the City Hall lawn beginning the night before.

Continue the whole story here at Courage To Resist, including photos.

3 comments:

MJ said...

At times I’m fairly sympathetic to the right-wing ideological claim that local/state/provincial should have jurisdiction over federal governments. It doesn’t accord with my own views most of the times, but in the US especially there is historical tradition and constitutional law to back it up (Canada too, of course, it just happens to be a less extreme example of such federalism).

What irritates me is when this decentralized ideal is only true when it supports conservative causes—then the federal government "damn well better put a stop to it". This is just one example, of course, but we also have the EPA telling California it is not allowed to enforce its own regime of strict emission standards, or the attempts to federally "defend marriage" in light of Massachusetts decision to extend civil unions to same-sex couples... it’s exhausting.

It just seems at cross-purposes with their stated aims and I don’t know if it serves them well at all. I mean, when Berkeley announced they were doing this I was fairly ambivalent (sorry, l-girl)—neither for or against, but recognized their right to do so. If there is a legal question of jurisdiction, that can go through the courts. But the moral outrage from unaffected non-residents, making no legal argument, has managed to put me firmly on side supporting Berkeley (not that my stamp of approval means much to the city).

L-girl said...

At times I’m fairly sympathetic to the right-wing ideological claim that local/state/provincial should have jurisdiction over federal governments.

Easy to be if you live in a state that protects your rights. For millions of Americans, geography is destiny - within their own country.

All Americans should have the same rights - but they don't.

What irritates me is when this decentralized ideal is only true when it supports conservative causes—then the federal government "damn well better put a stop to it".

Which should show you that it's not an ideological claim. It's just convenience cloaked in ideology. When it's easier to push their agenda through the federal govt, they do that. When it's more expedient to play the state's right card, they do that.

It just seems at cross-purposes with their stated aims and I don’t know if it serves them well at all.

One more reason to ignore anyone's stated claims, and judge them by their actions.

redsock said...

When it's easier to push their agenda through the federal govt, they do that. When it's more expedient to play the state's right card, they do that.

The Bush team showed that to a tee during the 2000 election. In Florida they argued states rights. But in Texas or New Mexico -- where a similar but much less-publicized recount was going on -- they took the exact opposite view (i.e., the argument Gore was using in Florida).